My friends call me a health nut and like to keep healthy by practicing yoga, running, and other cardiovascular intense activities.
Do you suffer from toenail fungus but don’t want to deal with prescription drugs that could possibly put your kidneys at risk or foot the bill for laser treatment for toenail fungus? Luckily there are many home remedies for toenail fungus. Old familiars such as tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar can help fight off pesky nail fungus. Take comfort in the fact that there are cures readily available for purchase and that you are not alone in your suffering.
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a condition that afflicts tens of millions of people worldwide. Many do not know how to cope with this affliction but there are many natural home remedies that can be used to treat and cure toenail fungus. Not only does nail fungus present a physical health risk but also a mental and emotional one, as many people form a negative opinion of their bodies while trying to cope with their footcare.
Before we get to the remedies, let’s take a look at the symptoms of toenail fungus so that you can identify the problem.
Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
While advanced cases of toenail fungus are easy to spot, the symptoms form slowly. The most prevalent infections start from the outer edge of the nail, near the cuticle, and work their way towards the inner part of the toenail. The fungal infections appear as yellow discolorations and are most commonly yellow or brown in color; in its advanced stages, the toenail may become black.
The skin near the discoloration may also become itchy, inflamed, or flaky. As the infection grows towards the inner part of the nail, the texture of the nail itself begins to change. Nails may thicken and become brittle. In some cases, the nail becomes overgrown and becomes difficult to cut using regular nail clippers; in extreme cases, the nail falls off altogether.
While those infected may not feel pain or discomfort in the initial stages, as the infection spreads, the thickness of the nail may cause pain that makes it difficult or uncomfortable to walk in even the loosest fitting of shoes.
The bad news is, that most of the time these symptoms only get worse with time if left untreated so it is very important to identify the symptoms of toenail fungus at an early stage to prevent it from spreading.
Causes of Toenail Fungus
Now that you know the enemy, you may be asking yourself, “What are
the causes of toenail fungus?” Truthfully, this question is difficult to
answer. Fungi are present everywhere in our daily life so it’s hard to
ascertain where the infection originated. One thing is certain; fungus
likes to live in warm and moist places such as public shower stalls, gym
lockers, and swimming pools.
Any sporting activity (including walking) that places a lot of stress on the feet can lead to a ruptured nail bed, which allows the built up moisture in socks and shoes to permeate cracks in the nails. In addition, poor fitting shoes, wet shoes or dirty socks allow a perfect breeding ground for foot fungus.
Nail fungus can also be spread through the sharing of linen, such as bath towels. Basically, any place or situation where your feet may come in contact with a wet surface is a potential hazard. People with occupations that require long periods of exposure to wet conditions are especially at risk.
Now that I've completely scared you, let me make your mind somewhat more at ease and tell you that genetics and your current medical condition play a large role in suppressing infections. Weakened immune systems, like those caused by AIDS or HIV, are obviously not as good at resisting infections. Smoking and other medical conditions that cause poor circulation also may increase your risks.
If your nails become infected, don't necessarily think that it is a sign of a larger malady. Some people are just born with weaker immune systems than others. A simple change in diet can help those with weaker immune systems become stronger.
There's More Than One Home Remedy for Toenail Fungus
So now on to the nitty gritty and how to treat toenail fungus with homeopathic home remedies. All of the following are topical solutions and should be applied directly to the infected nail and the surrounding area. To be safe, perform a skin patch test by applying a small amount of the topical substance you choose to a small area of the skin, near the infected area to see if it causes irritation.
Just remember this is a slow process so do not be deterred by slow results, this is normal. In the end, patience and perseverance will be required, as the entire process could take up to a year, depending on the severity of your infection(s).
Apple Cider Vinegar
Perhaps the most popular home remedy for toenail fungus, apple cider vinegar is known as a classic folk remedy that may be able to cure a variety of ailments; acne, arthritis, allergies, and sinus infections, just to name a few. The general thought is that apple cider vinegar is acidic and fungi will not thrive in an acidic environment. Distilled vinegar is recommended but the regular type can be used too and isn't as expensive.
To use, just apply the vinegar to gauze or cotton balls and apply it to the infected nail and the surrounding regions on the skin, at least two times a day. It is recommended that you apply after showering in the morning and before going to bed at night. Some wrap the afflicted toe in gauze, soaked in apple cider vinegar, and wear it overnight. Others soak their feet in a shallow pan filled with the vinegar for 15-20 minutes (this method would obviously be less economical).
There are also people who have reported that ingesting a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with juice (it tastes horrible so you will want to mask the flavor) or other beverage daily, in addition to topical treatment, can help to accelerate the process. No matter which process you use, you will generally start to see results in a few days. However, remember that it can take up to a year for a nail on your big toe to fully grow back, fungi-free.
Commonly used and ingested as an aid for constipation, or for soaking minor sprains and bruises, Epsom salt is also known as a proven treatment for toenail fungus by many. In a tub, simply mix the salt with lukewarm water and soak the infected feet for 15 or 20 minutes. The Epsom salt will aid in keeping the toenails dry and moisture free. After soaking, remember to completely dry the feet; a hairdryer might be useful for this. Continue treatment for 2-3 weeks.
Read More From Remedygrove
Tea Tree Oil | Lavender Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil and exhibits a dull golden color. As you can tell by its name, it is derived from the Narrow-leave Tea Tree which is indigenous to New South Wales, Australia. Among users of home remedies, it is known to have anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, analgesic, and anti-parasitical properties. This is why you will see tea tree oil included in many natural hygiene products at your local health food store. It is recommended that you dilute or mix the oil with another essential oil, as it is known to cause irritation when used at full strength.
The most common oil to mix with tea tree oil, for nail fungus treatment, is lavender oil. This is due to lavender oil’s reputation as an antiseptic and pain reliever. I am sure there are other essential oils or elixirs that can be mixed with tea tree oil but I have not seen enough information to comment on them.
As with the apple cider vinegar, apply to the infected nail and surrounding area with gauze or cotton swab at least two times daily. Its recommended that you perform a patch test on your skin before you begin treatment.
Very important safety notes:
*children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women should not use tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is toxic when swallowed; do not drink tea tree oil.
*diabetics, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women should not use lavender oil.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid Creams
Some recommend applying an AHA cream onto the infected area while the toenails are undergoing treatment. This can be done at night and helps to remove dry and flakey skin, where fungus likes to grow.
Oregano Oil | Olive Oil
Most of us know oregano as a culinary herb, however, it also has medicinal applications as well. Just like tea tree oil, oregano oil is known to have antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-parasitical, antiviral, analgesic, and antifungal properties. Undiluted oregano oil is also a strong substance and can irritate the skin so again perform a patch test before beginning treatment. A couple of drops of oregano oil should be diluted with one teaspoon of olive oil to achieve the desired solution.
Apply daily to the infected toenail and surrounding area with a cotton swab or gauze and you should soon start to see results. Continue to use this treatment for no more than 3 weeks.
Now that you know how to treat toenail fungus with home remedies, I sincerely hope your battle with this frustrating ailment will be a winning one. Whether you decide to use essential oils, natural salts, or a natural over-the-counter topical solution, as always, I advocate that you see your personal health care physician before beginning any of these home treatment methods I've outlined. Here's to the health of your feet!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on June 01, 2012:
I once had this start to develop on one toe. I caught it in time and used vinegar on it for several weeks. It cleared up and the nail became healthy looking again. Your Hub is very complete and informative.
karen on June 22, 2011:
Misty... my sister went through the same thing for years of being sick ....all yeast related and the key was diet! It wasn't until her immune system allowed her to get MRSA which led to the use of even stronger antibiotics that she realized this was bigger than her body could handle. She too went on a very strict diet ..NO SUGARS or sugar substitute and no starches. It was like a miracle ..she is doing so much better it is amazing. It is sooo hard to do but it is the only thing that worked. She said she felt like the fog had been lifted mentally and physically. She also has gone to the natural herbs with the help of her local health food store. When you get to the point where the fungus takes over your life ...giving up sugar is a small price to pay! She now feels better than she has in her whole life and continues to resist the temptation to eat those foods that feed the fungus! I am so proud of her for sticking to it as I have tried myself and fallen short of the healthy choices. She says when you get to the point where she was, you get a motivation like no other. For those of you suffering with yeast/fungal infections you can relate to the despair ....the diet works! But you must be strict with it! Good luck.
Jeniferr (author) from United States on March 24, 2011:
Thanks for sharing Misty and sorry to hear you've had to go through so much. I'll have to look more into Neem oil and update this hub. Honestly, I wasn't aware things could get so bad but I went back and re-read some articles and they do mention (at least the Mayo Clinic does) more severe complications. For anyone reading this, here is the link:
Best of luck to you Misty, keep on fighting, and keep on writing about your experiences.
Misty39 from Massachusetts USA on March 23, 2011:
I have been doing many web searches and researches,I found many,many treatments for fungus/fungi etc. first I found that having fungus of the toenails also means the whole body is infected because it spreads,I always went barefooted so god only knows what I may have walked in,but every day I showered before going to work I would smell this moldy stinky smell come from my feet,I started using atheletes foot powder and it went away but little did I know it either went into my blood stream or was already there,I started noticing yeast infections,blurred visions,dizzy spells,severe headaches horrible smell(worse than feet)from my arm pits,my blouses were stained black(?)I went to one doctor about this & he said not enough iron,I went to another Dr. he said too much iron.As for my continuous yeast infections the antibiotics increased the yeast and made it more painful where I started bleeding but not one Dr.or specialist could figure this out.In all the years I have been tracking this disease down a few times I had suspected fungus but never knowing how,where or why(??)as if it really mattered at this point.I found after many years too late it is fungus and it did start with my toes and nails.Today I am 100% crippled because of the fungus and the lack of information doctors do not share/cannot share with patients.I met a person that has close to what I have, but she very quickly found a great solution,she soaked in a bathtub with a half cup of amonia;I thought that would burn the skin.I said that's rather extensive and scary,but here I am barely walking not really caring about life one way or the other & suffering much pain,so I took the plunge and sat in the tub for at least a half hour,I once had a sign of fungus in my right ear lobe where its dark an moist,it showed up like a neon sign,I used every thing under the sun to try an get rid of it;after sitting in the tub with amonia that white sign of fungus in my right ear is completely gone with no exageration,this morning I again sat in a tub of amonia and sticking to a very strict diet,no sugars, artificial or other,no starches,steamed veggies and rice,rice absorbs some impurities,I use all the remedies mentioned in here as well as I tried"Neem oil: which is good for fungus under nails,I use all or any probiotics that I can,this is a slow process for me where I am worse off but I am hoping to get my strength back and hopfully walk some day.I have also been helping my husband where he too has it really bad under his nails.When the amonia is diluted in the bathwater it does not smell as strong or as bad.Nothing in life is a guarantee but when it comes to saving my own life and possibly others I would do this again and had I of known this info.way back when,would I still make a mad dash for a bathtub full of amonia? You Bet I would.My herbs today are golden seal extract(immune health),oderless garlic 1000mg; milk thistle 1000mg(liver function) cranberry caps.500mg.(urinary tract health)later on I plan on changing my treatment over to peroxide & vinegar again later on followed by bleach,then apply tea tree oil then vaseline.It takes consistancy to keep this up in order to get rid of all the fungus where is will stay in your clothing,bedclothes etc. I took every single thing and washed it in amonia even my dogs and they loved it and still thriving.I put acv vinegar on the back of my cats neck's what a rush from cleaning every thing from stem to stern.Good luck & god bless....
I drink a small amount of acv vinegar with the mother in it(pulp)also I have had severe problems with bowel movements or the lack of.yesterday I found a great site for this problem:I used a table spoon of baking soda,two or three table spoons of lemon or lime juice the rest water and drink its great as a drink for thirst like I always am.It's also great as a cleanse as a follow up.
miragerainy on April 18, 2010:
This is really interesting information! Usually in such frustrating situations doctors prescribe harsh medication which have severe side-effects. Thanks for the hub and the great advices!
Tamarind on April 06, 2010:
I hate toe nail fungus. Thanks for the information. I don't remember what my real toenail looks like anymore.
Wealthmadehealthy from Somewhere in the Lone Star State on September 08, 2009:
Has anyone ever soaked these little toes in peroxide?? This works as well....
Jeniferr (author) from United States on July 22, 2009:
Hi Ivorwen, nice to hear your making progress. The pine needle tea can only help. Gotta love the high antioxidant tea!
Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on July 16, 2009:
Thank you for this very valuable information! I just began treating some fungus with an olive oil/salt scrub that was infused with lavender and lemon, and drinking pine needle tea. It has made a huge difference.